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Opinion: Historic developments are taking place in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, but the signing of a peace treaty will likely take a longer time

Opinion: Historic developments are taking place in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, but the signing of a peace treaty will likely take a longer time

On May 22, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Brussels with the mediation of European Council President Charles Michel to discuss the peace process. It is worth noting that since the beginning of this year, the representatives of the two South Caucasian republics have met exclusively via the mediation of the EU, while the only Russia-mediated meeting – that of the foreign ministers held on May 12 –  took place on the sidelines of another major event and brought about no novelty in the negotiations. The Brussels summit, however, delivered some very important outcomes which, if implemented, will constitute a critical breakthrough in the peace process. The quick implementation of some of the issues agreed by president Aliyev and prime minister Pashinyan at their meeting in Brussels, can be described as truly historic, writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed. "But the signing of a peace treaty will likely take a longer time, and necessitate an agreement not only between Baku and Yerevan, but also between Moscow and Brussels", he adds.

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Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: Historic developments are taking place in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, but the signing of a peace treaty will likely take a longer time

Opinion: Historic developments are taking place in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations, but the signing of a peace treaty will likely take a longer time

On May 22, the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan met in Brussels with the mediation of European Council President Charles Michel to discuss the peace process. It is worth noting that since the beginning of this year, the representatives of the two South Caucasian republics have met exclusively via the mediation of the EU, while the only Russia-mediated meeting – that of the foreign ministers held on May 12 –  took place on the sidelines of another major event and brought about no novelty in the negotiations. The Brussels summit, however, delivered some very important outcomes which, if implemented, will constitute a critical breakthrough in the peace process. The quick implementation of some of the issues agreed by president Aliyev and prime minister Pashinyan at their meeting in Brussels, can be described as truly historic, writes Vasif Huseynov in this op-ed. "But the signing of a peace treaty will likely take a longer time, and necessitate an agreement not only between Baku and Yerevan, but also between Moscow and Brussels", he adds.
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Progress in EU hosted talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Progress in EU hosted talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan

A third round of meetings between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan hosted by the European Union in Brussels have resulted in progress on a range of issues as the two countries work to resolve the long standing conflict between them. European Council president, Charles Michel welcomed president Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and prime minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia for another meeting in trilateral format on Sunday (22 May). He later described the talks as "frank and productive". In a statement to the media late on Sunday night Michel said the talks focused on the situation in the South Caucasus and the development of EU relations with both countries as well as the broader region. Summarising the meeting, Michel said "the discussion was frank and productive. We reviewed the entire set of issues. We had a detailed discussion on humanitarian issues, including demining, and efforts to free detainees and address the fate of missing persons." He listed a number of outcomes from the meeting including on border issues, connectivity, on a future peace agreement and on socio economic development. In conclusion president Michel said that he also stressed the importance of preparing the populations for long-term sustainable peace. The EU is ready to step up its support. "We agreed to remain in close contact and will meet again in the same format by July/August." 
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Russia steps up its support for the military government of Mali

Russia steps up its support for the military government of Mali

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday (20 May) received in Moscow his Malian counterpart Abdoulaye Diop with promises of Russian support for the the Malian military government across a range of areas, including defence, security and energy. Lavrov speaking at a press conference with Diop accused France of trying to dictate to Mali who they can or cannot communicate with. "This is unacceptable and does not make the French Republic or French manners look good", the Russian foreign minister said. The meeting came on the same day that the German parliament agreed on a reconfiguration of its military contingent in Mali.
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Opinion: The decision of Sweden and Finland to apply for NATO membership is the right one and should be supported

Opinion: The decision of Sweden and Finland to apply for NATO membership is the right one and should be supported

For decades, Finland and Sweden weathered the dangers of the cold war as neutral states, sandwiched between Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, and the United States and its European allies in NATO. It was a risky situation. Their professed neutrality was seen as a naivety by some, as a vulnerability by others. But they used their status for the common good. Finland and Sweden, together with other neutral and non-aligned countries such as Austria, Switzerland, Yugoslavia and Malta, helped to bring about the Helsinki Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, and in 1975 the signing of the Helsinki Final Act, a milestone document that reduced tension during the cold war, and provided a blue print for what followed. This week they broke with their historic position of neutrality, which in the case of Sweden had lasted for two centuries, and applied to join NATO. Finland and Sweden were left with no choice. Their decision to apply for NATO membership was the right one, and should be supported.
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Opinion: A transitional arrangement for Karabakh may be necessary if deadlock in Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiations is to be avoided

Opinion: A transitional arrangement for Karabakh may be necessary if deadlock in Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiations is to be avoided

The issue of the status of Nagorno Karabakh cannot be avoided in future discussions on an Armenia-Azerbaijan bilateral peace treaty, argues Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed. One solution is to agree to some transitional arrangement. During this “transitional period,” the status quo that emerged after the 2020 Karabakh war should remain intact, with no territorial changes or population relocation. The OSCE Minsk group or other relevant international bodies may elaborate on specific criteria to determine conditions that will allow the termination of the “transitional period." Meanwhile, the sides may seek to provide an international mandate to the Russian peacekeeping force deployed in Karabakh, potentially supplementing Russian troops with forces of other countries. Implementing robust “confidence-building measures" between the sides supported by the international community should be a significant part of the deal. Such a “Transitional period” may not seem the ideal solution. However, other options risk sooner or later destroying the fragile bilateral talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan and may bring the region back to the pre-2020 war situation. 
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G7 countries reject outright attempts to redraw borders by force in violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

G7 countries reject outright attempts to redraw borders by force in violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In a strongly worded statement issued on Saturday (14 May), the foreign ministers of the G7 countries have declared steadfast solidarity and support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia’s unjustifiable, unprovoked and illegal war of aggression, a war in which Belarus is complicit. The foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and US, and the High Representative of the EU stated that "they are committed to helping Ukraine, a democracy and a UN member, uphold its sovereignty and territorial integrity, to defend itself and resist future attacks or coercion, choose its own future and prosper." In their final statement after their meeting the Ministers declared: "In the presence of the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Moldova, we underscore Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and right for self-defence under the UN Charter. This war of aggression has reaffirmed our determination to reject outright attempts to redraw borders by force in violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity."
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That other European border

That other European border

The Spanish Interior Minister announced on Thursday, 12 May, that Madrid and Rabat have decided to reopen the borders between Morocco and the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in the next few days, after two years of closure. The enclaves, on the African continent, are surrounded by the sea, and by Moroccan territory. The reopening of the only two land borders of the European Union on the African continent will be done gradually and will initially concern the nationals of countries belonging to the Schengen area, according to the Spanish Minister of the Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska. Workers from border regions  will then be able to cross the border freely from 31 May 2022.